It may have had nothing to do with the Conservative dirty tricks department, but the Labour Party's text of Gordon Brown's opening election salvo arrived (twice) on my computer in what seemed to be a cross between ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and shorthand.

The English version, when it turned up, was much longer, though no more inspiring. It contained nothing The Chancellor has not said already.

Maybe this was tactical reticence, he was holding back his fireworks for greater effect later on. Or maybe this was just a demonstration of not sulking, proof that Mr Brown was actually taking part in the campaign.

Whatever, things he left unsaid rang louder than anything he uttered.

Nothing about MG Rover, for a start - the one economic drama we can reliably expect to unfold in the course of this campaign. In what direction and to whose electoral, let alone economic, advantage, we shall see.

All Mr Brown had to say was that on his visit to China - when he failed to secure Rover's future - he saw "an Asia moving forward in science-based, high-skilled, value-added production services".

That is to the point. But so is the future of Longbridge.

There was nothing about tax, either - though a fair bit about spending or "investing in and reforming public services instead of just cutting them", and not a word about value for public money. Tax promises may come later.

Yesterday it looked as if both Mr Brown and Michael Howard have been hearing the same focus groups telling them to beware of anything that could involve "cuts". The received wisdom is that the electorate is in love with public spending, or at least profoundly nervous of any attempts at good financial house-keeping that might constrain the NHS.

Above all, there was nothing about pensions.

Nobody expects Mr Brown to draw attention to his own part in wrecking the structure of well-funded occupational pension schemes in place when he came to the Treasury. The question now is whether we are to have compulsory contributions to make good the damage - and whether voters can tell the difference between compulsory contributions and taxes.

If this election is to be won and lost on "the economy, stupid", these are all issues that will get an airing. Any of them could become explosive. By not raising them on Day One, Mr Brown has not made them go away.